Nearly half Europeans who don’t own home reckon they never will

Survey by Dutch bank ING highlights the growing affordability gap

Nearly half of Europeans who do not own their own home have given up hope of ever doing so, a survey showed on Tuesday, with pessimism highest among Britons and Germans.

The survey of 15 countries by Dutch bank ING did not include Ireland, where affordability is a major issue with property price inflation now running at over 12 per cent.

Overall, it found 48 per cent of people in 13 European countries who do not yet own their own home reckoned they probably never will. And it mattered to most of them. A majority of the non-homeowners - 65 per cent - said they considered owning their own place to be a symbol of success, suggesting that buying is not just a financial decision.

Poles (72 per cent), Turks (70 per cent) and Romanians (70 per cent) topped the list of those judging homeownership as a sign of success. Ian Bright, senior economist and managing director of group research at ING, said the survey findings suggested many people may become disenchanted with their lot.


“Most people want to buy a house. Yet many now accept that they are unlikely to buy,” he said. “If you combine this with our findings that a higher proportion of home owners are happy with their housing situation, compared with renters, then it seems that more people will feel incredibly frustrated with their housing choices in the future.”

The survey made no reference to politics, but a number of European elections in the past years have shown a rising anger among voters at what is perceived as a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Hopes for being able to afford to buy a home, for example, were lowest in Britain and Germany, where about 56 per cent of non-homeowners in both countries believed they would never be able to buy.

In what were seen as at the very least snubs to the status quo, Britons last year voted to leave the European Union, and Germans this year put a far-right party into the Bundestag for the first time in half a century.

House prices have long been out of reach for many in Britain and even with uncertainty over Brexit, they continued to rise in the summer. In Germany, though relatively cheap compared with other European countries in the past, house prices have risen sharply in recent years, partly as record low European Central Bank rates have encouraged households to take on debt. Average real estate prices in cities including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt have increased by more than 60 percent since 2010, the Bundesbank estimates.